By Luc Maccioni for YCAPS
On Thursday, January 25th, RADM Yasuhiro Kawakami (ret.) of the JMSDF and Director of Security Studies at Sasakawa Peace Foundation delivered an engaging seminar in Sasebo on the JMSDF’s efforts to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance in the context of Japan’s new security policy introduced in December 2022. Attendees from numerous professional backgrounds and nationalities participated in the reception, seminar, and Q&A session.
RADM Kawakami’s talk began with detailed explanations on the reasons for Japan’s desire to fundamentally reinforce its defense capabilities, citing increasing regional tensions and ongoing global conflicts such as the war in Ukraine as major causes for concern. After providing much background on PLA activities in the Indo-Pacific region, RADM Kawakami then presented on Japan’s “three strategy documents” and their significance for the future of Japanese national defense policy, concluding the seminar with a discussion on the JMSDF’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2023’s goals and outcomes.
The aforementioned "three strategy documents” include Japan’s National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Defense Force Improvement Plan. Common phrases among all three documents included “the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance,” “further cooperation with like-minded countries,” and “the improvement of Japan’s defense capabilities.” These strategy documents illustrate Japan’s strong commitment and further desire to deter regional threats and take on a greater role in a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
The seminar’s lively Q&A, carried out both in English and Japanese, covered many topics relating to Japanese security. Key question topics included the JSDF’s role during a potential Taiwanese contingency, Japan’s current and future abilities to defend its remote islands, and Japan’s endeavors to strengthen its “Multi-Domain Defense Force” in the event of future conflicts similar to that of Russia and Ukraine. The audience’s questions were very much Sino-centric in that most regarded the PLA a major cause for concern for Japan and its allies in the region.
Yasuhiro Kawakami is a security expert specializing in military strategy, operational art, operational mobility, tactics, national defense studies, and Japanese security policy. He assumed the post of chairman and professor of the Department of National Defense Studies at the National Defense Academy of Japan in September 2018, later retiring from the JMSDF in December 2020. Following his retirement, Kawakami assumed the position of Senior Research Fellow in the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in October 2021 and currently serves as its Director of Security Studies Program.